Hard Lessons of the Rail Dispute

Today is December 9, where in an alternative world America’s rail workers would be walking off the job and setting up picket lines, fed up with greedy corporations who put profit above their employees’ welfare.

Or, in that world, the strike would not have happened because the U.S. Congress, supporting rail workers’ rejection of an unjust contract, would by now have voted to provide them with a few days of well-deserved paid sick leave.

But we don’t live in that world. Today, rail workers are on the job, supplying the county’s needs, without a day of paid sick leave, and those at home fear that at any moment they could be called into work, regardless of any plans, personal illness, family crisis, funerals or all of the other emergencies that workers should be able to call out of work for without fearing discipline.

Now that the dust has settled and Americans are apparently good with the proposition that some of the most important and profitable companies in the United States can’t possibly afford to give their employees a single day of paid sick leave without threatening their business plan and wreaking havoc on the American economy… let’s see what we’ve learned about life for workers in these United States.

I’ve taken a breath since my initial rant, about the semi-regular screwing of rail workers — and I’ve been reading and listening to everything I can to see if we can draw some lessons — or at least insightful observations — from what we’ve witnessed over the past few weeks. Actually over the last few years. Or decades.


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